Sunday, June 3, 2012

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 6-3-2012

 TIGER TIES NICKLAUS AT JACK'S EVENT
Tiger Woods rallied to win the Memorial with an amazing shot at 16 to turn the tide.Two shots behind with three holes to play, and his ball in an impossible spot behind the 16th green, Woods holed a flop shot from 50 feet away that turned bogey into birdie and sent him on his way to a stunning comeback Sunday in the Memorial.

Woods made three birdies on his last four holes for a 5-under 67, matching the lowest score of the final round, and he finished in style. He hit 9-iron to just inside 10 feet, and raised his putter - a pose that Nicklaus made famous for so many years - well before the ball tumbled into the cup.


It was his fifth win at Muirfield Village, and the 73rd of his PGA Tour career to match Nicklaus at No. 2 on the all-time list. Sam Snead won a record 82 times.He started the day four shots behind and wound up with a two-shot victory over Andres Romero  and Rory Sabbatini, who was in control of the tournament until he fell victim again to some old magic by Woods.

Woods said he didn't miss a shot all day, though that flop shot stands out.

''The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I've ever seen,'' Nicklaus said from the TV booth. ''Look at the position he was in. If he's short, the tournament is over. If he's long, the tournament is over. He puts it in the hole.''

Woods won for the second time this year, and moved to No. 4 in the world.

This was more impressive than his five-shot win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in March, when he had a one-shot lead on a course where he could get by with par. The Memorial required much more work, especially when he had to go after birdies in the final hour. And that's what he did.

He reached the par-5 15th into the wind in two shots to set up a two-putt birdie and get within one shot of Sabbatini. But just like that, it looked as if his chances were over when his tee shot bounded through the green and into a tough lie behind the green.

With a full swing, the ball came out soft and began tracking toward the hole. It caught the right edge of the cup and dropped for a most improbable birdie, and Woods took two steps to the left and delivered a full uppercut not seen from him in some time.

Sabbatini didn't need to see it. He was on the 15th green, scrambling for par, when Muirfield Village shook with the loudest roar of the day. The South African suddenly was tied for the lead, but not for long. He hit his tee shot into the right bunker on the 16th, the third-hardest hole Sunday that yielded only four birdies, and then blasted out to just inside 15 feet and took bogey to fall one behind.
That was all Woods needed.

From the middle of the 18th fairway, with Nicklaus watching from behind the green, Woods hit 9-iron to the perfect spot on the back of the green that it caught the slope and rolled to just inside 10 feet.

Nicklaus always waits on the 18th green for the winner, a tradition Woods knows better than anyone. This was even more special given the circumstances of his 73rd win.

It was a hard-luck finish for Sabbatini, who has a long history with Woods for brazen comments that always backfire on him. He didn't get many breaks, but kept his patience throughout the final round and still had a chance until he failed to take advantage of a big drive on the 17th, having to save par from a bunker.

Spencer Levin, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, lost the lead to Sabbatini with a two-shot swing on the par-3 12th, then took double bogey on the next hole to fall from contention. He closed with a 75, the same score he shot in the final round at Phoenix when he had a six-shot lead.

That was nothing compared with Rickie Fowler, who played in the second-to-last group with Woods to help generate an enormous gallery. Fowler opened with a birdie, and his day fell apart after that. With a double bogey on the last hole, he closed with an 84.

The only consolation for Fowler was getting a front-row seat to a comeback remarkable even by Woods' standards - especially the chip-in on the 16th. Fowler said a good shot would have been anywhere around 10 feet.

It was the second time this year Woods has won in his final tuneup before a major. He won Bay Hill, but then tied for 40th at the Masters. The U.S. Open at Olympic Club starts on June 14, and Woods would be quite happy to take the game he had Sunday to San Francisco.

The Memorial will be remembered for the one flop shot he made.



LEWIS WINS LPGA CLASSIC
Stacy Lewis shot an even-par 71 Sunday to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic by four strokes over Katherine Hull.

Lewis finished 54 holes at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club at 12-under par 201. It was Lewis' third LPGA win and her second of 2012. She won the Mobile LPGA Classic in April. Last year, Lewis won a major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Hull sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the final green to finish alone in second place at 8 under after a closing 68.

Mika Miyazato and Azahara Munoz were both at 206 after rounds of 68 and 69, respectively.
Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, and Hee-Won Han were both at 207.





HAAS TAKES PRINCIPAL CHARITY CLASSIC

Kirk Triplett put together the best round of golf anyone had ever played Sunday in the Principal Charity Classic. But Jay Haas was brilliant for three rounds instead of one, proving yet again that nobody can dominate the Glen Oaks Country Club like he can.

Haas finished with a 16-under 197 total to win the tournament by five strokes, becoming the first golfer to win the Champions Tour event in Iowa three times.

Haas,  led by three shots after shooting 65 in the second round and made it stand up with a final round 5-under 66.

Haas' 16-under score tied the tournament mark set by Gil Morgan in 2006 and matched the largest victory of the season in the Champions Tour.

Triplett set the course record with a 9-under 62 and finished second at 11-under 202 along with Larry Mize. Fred Funk and Tom Lehman tied for third at 10 under.Haas had built up enough of a lead to be able to play it safe -- notching a victory that felt strangely similar to his easy one at Glen Oaks in 2007.

Haas birdied the par-3 second hole for some breathing room, and saved par on No. 9 despite three putts. Haas nailed another birdie on the 14th hole, giving him a four-shot cushion with four holes to play.

Haas capped a brilliant weekend by leaving his tee shot on the par-3 No. 16 within two feet. He tapped in, but a bogey on the next hole kept him from passing Morgan.

Triplett was playing just his fourth Champions Tour event this year, and a tie for eighth in Tampa Bay in April had been his best finish. He started Sunday in equally unassuming fashion at 2-under, nine shots back of Haas, before playing the best round Glen Oaks had ever seen.

Triplett notched birdies of half of his holes, including a 10-foot putt on the notoriously difficult No. 17 to reach the record low. He nearly went to 10-under, but his long putt on the 18th hole stopped a few feet shy of the cup.



JAIDEE WINS WALES OPEN
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee survived a poor start to win the Wales Open by 1 stroke on Sunday, with a final round 1-over 72 in wet conditions.

The 42-year-old Jaidee, who was the leader through three rounds, holed four birdies on the back nine at Celtic Manor, after bogeying the fourth and double-bogeying the par-five ninth, where he went out of bounds before finding a bunker.

Jaidee finished 6-under 278 for his fifth European Tour title and his first in mainland Europe.

The Netherlands' Jooist Luiten (72) and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (68) shared second place with Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67) and South Africa's Richard Sterne (68) at 5-under.



HAHN GETS FIRST NATIONWIDE VICTORY
James Hahn earned his first Nationwide Tour victory Sunday by beating Scott Parel on the second hole of a playoff at the Rex Hospital Open.

Hahn shot a 4-under 67 and joined Parel at 13-under 271. Both players had pars on the par-4 No. 18, and Hahn birdied the par-5 No. 9 while Parel had a par on the second playoff hole.

Hahn earned $99,000 for the victory. He started the day four strokes behind third-round leader B.J. Staten, but made his move early with three birdies on his first five holes.

He had his fifth birdie of the round on the par-4 No. 13 and closed his round with five pars.

Jin Park (67), Staten (72) and Jim Renner (71) finished at 272.




IN OTHER NEWS
Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, has been arrested on drunken driving charges in suburban New York.

Police say Steinberg was stopped during a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night in Ardsley and arrested on DWI and aggravated DWI charges.

Sgt. David Fisher says Steinberg, who told authorities who he was, was arrested after he was issued a field sobriety test. Police say his blood alcohol content was .18 percent. The legal limit in New York for DWI is .08 percent.


Michelle Wie  shot a 12-over 154  at the Shoprite Classic in Galloway, N.J., this week to miss her fifth cut in a row. Wie, whose career has been on a very public roller-coaster ride ever since she turned pro at age 16 in 2005, seems to have fallen into a  slump since graduating from Stanford University in March.

Her putting, always her Achilles heel, has crumbled completely  and her driving isn't far behind (she managed to hit 12 out of 28 fairways in the same two days). Experts and casual watchers alike seem to agree that whatever is ailing the tall Hawaiian, it must be mental.


Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world from Northern Ireland, blew himself out of the Memorial Tournament Friday after another inexplicable display of poor golf.

A birdie-free 7-over-par 79 left McIlroy with a 36-hole total of 150, three shots outside the cutline, marking the third straight start that he has been dismissed before the weekend. McIlroy has not made a cut since he lost to Rickie Fowler in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship, and he posted a 79 for a second straight week.

His continuing struggles are a far cry from his impressive run prior to the Masters when he finished in the top-5 in 10 of 11 starts around the world.


Phil Mickelson shot a 79 and then told playing partners Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson that he was going home because he was mentally drained after a hectic past few weeks that included taking his wife, Amy, to Italy and France for her 40th birthday.

"I've got to be more big picture-oriented and think about the U.S. Open (in two weeks at Olympic) and what's best to get my best golf out there, and I need the next few days to rest up a bit," Mickelson said, offering regrets he wasn't living up to his "responsibility" to finish the tournament.

The 79 was his worst round ever at the Memorial. He declined to say whether he was bothered by distractions on the course.

But Watson and Fowler laid the blame for his withdrawal on fans who continually distracted Mickelson by snapping photos with cellphone cameras.



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